There was a buzz of excitement as England prepared to depart for the World Twenty20, with all-rounder David Willey admitting he was still pinching himself ahead of the trip.
Eoin Morgan‘s 15-man squad departed for India on Tuesday with the goal of becoming the first country to win the World T20 for the second time.
“It’s what you dream about as a kid – going to a World Cup to represent your country – and here I am,” said Willey, who made his Twenty20 international debut last June.
“I’m still pinching myself to see whether it’s actually real life.
“I got a letter from a young lad a couple of weeks ago who’s had a tough time losing his mum and things. He said I’m his inspiration and that he can achieve anything.
“To receive a letter like that just shows that people are looking up to me. I guess that’s my inspiration for these next three weeks.”
Like Willey, left-arm seamer Reece Topley was only recently introduced to T20I cricket and he shares his team-mate’s enthusiasm for his first taste of a global tournament.
“It’s obviously very exciting and there’s a good buzz around the boys,” said Topley, who has made for appearances for England in the sprint format.
“Personally it’s my first experience at a World Cup and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to be as a cricketer.
“You spend so much time watching past World Cups and now it’s your turn to be a part of one it’s an amazing feeling.
“What an opportunity it is in front of us. I think we’re just looking forward to seizing the opportunity and hopefully we can come back with some silverware.”
All-rounder Ben Stokes is a key player for England across all three formats but this is a new experience even for him.
“We do this so often it just seems like another tour but obviously there’s a bit of excitement around it with it being a World Cup, the first one for me,” he said.
“Cricket is like a religion out there and I’m quite excited to get involved with the atmosphere and just hear the noise of a full crowd in India.
“Every time I and everyone else steps out on the pitch in an England shirt it’s a special moment and not one to take for granted.
“There might be a few more nerves with it being a World Cup but every game you play for your country is special in its own way.”
Jos Buttler is one of the most experienced members of the party having already featured in two World T20 tournaments, but the wicketkeeper-batsman the excitement is still there.
“I’m obviously immensely proud,” he said.
“You see the guys on Twitter today talking about how it’s a dream come true, and it really is. It’s fantastic to be a part of it.”